In the very heart of Venice, a stone's throw away from the Doge's Palace, stands one of the most modern buildings in the whole of the city. The building in question, whose only merit is that it doesn't draw much attention to itself, is the Danieli Excelsior, which is often referred to as Il Danielino.
The hotel (Riva degli Schiavoni) stands on the site of an infamous crime, an act of dogicide (Is there such a word?), which happened more than 800 years ago. On May 28th, 1172, Doge Vitale Michiel II (and his entourage) was rushing from the Palazzo Ducale to the nearby convent of San Zaccaria, where he hoped to find refuge.
The doge was in a spot of bother, having presided over the near total destruction of the Venetian fleet, and an angry mob was at his heels. As he turned from the Riva degli Schiavoni into a narrow alley, known as the Calle delle Rasse, the Doge was fatally stabbed. His assassin, who happened to live in the calle, was caught, tried and hanged. The state then went one step further and ordered that the killer's house be razed to the ground. It was further decreed that no stone building should ever be built on that spot.
This injunction was respected for more than 700 years until the Danieli Excelsior, the work of the architect Virgilio Vallot, was erected in the 1940s.
Above the side entrance to the Danieli Excelsior is a large bas-relief of Venus, the work of Napoleone Martinuzzi (1892-1977), an artist from Murano. The image reminds us that Venice, a city rising from the waters, once identified with the sea-born goddess of antiquity. A link which was reinforced by the astrologers, who noted that on the day the city of Venice was supposed to have been founded (March 25th, 421) Venus was in the ascendant.
For several centuries the island of Cyprus, the traditional home of Venus, was part of the Venetian Republic.
Blogging about Venice:
its art, history & culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England.
Since 200I I have been living in Italy, where I run private tours of Florence, Rome &
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